A Harrisonville High School sophomore died early Saturday when a fire broke out in her home.
Saylor Johnson, 16, was trapped inside the home, located outside Harrisonville on 278th Street near Missouri Route DD, according to the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.
Saylor’s mother and stepfather, Erica and Gary Chaney, escaped with non-life-threatening injuries.
A sheriff’s deputy was the first to arrive on the scene around midnight and tried to rescue the trapped girl. But he was turned back by the smoke and fire.
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Capt. Kevin Tieman of the sheriff’s office said the deputy was later treated for smoke inhalation.
This is not the first death of a Harrisonville High School student this school year.
It’s “a tragedy,” Tieman said. “And it affects the community, even more so when it is a young person. ... For students of Harrisonville, they’ve had an extremely tragic year with the loss of fellow students so far.”
In August, Corey Turner died when a vehicle struck him as he was walking away from school. He was 14.
Like then, the victim’s peers took to social media after Saylor’s death, posting tributes to their lost friend.
One recalled exchanging smiles with Saylor in the hallway of the high school just two days ago.
“I’m nothing more than happy that I received a smile back that’s now tattooed to my heart,” Olivia Daniel wrote on Facebook. “Rest in Paradise Saylor Rai Johnson.”
Olivia, a junior, said by phone that she’ll remember Saylor for her enthusiasm, “crazy” smiles and optimistic mindset.
“She always tried to put a smile on my face,” Olivia said. “She was always happy.”
Others reminisced on time spent with Saylor in the classrooom and on the softball field.
Daniel said that Saylor’s softball teammates laid flowers near her home Saturday and released balloons in their teammate’s honor.
The cause of the fire has not been released.